A NEW initiative has been launched in a bid to tackle serious and organised crime in West Yorkshire. 

The Programme Precision crackdown will look at the four key areas of Prevent, Pursue, Prepare and Protect.

It will look to prevent people from becoming involved in organised crime, "relentlessly" pursue criminals through disruption, aim to reduce the impact of serious and organised crime to victims, businesses and communities and aim to understand the drivers behind organised crime - and what could come up in the future. 

According to the strategy, West Yorkshire currently has 146 organised crime groups, with a steady increase in numbers over the past 18 months. 

Russ Foster, Assistant Chief Constable Specialist Crime - Programme Precision, of West Yorkshire Police, said: "Serious and organised crime costs the UK economy around £37 billion every year and brings misery and suffering to victims.

"Serious and organised crime is nothing new. Already much is done in partnership to tackle drugs and firearms offences, child sexual exploitation and modern slavery.

"We must, however, ensure, that as the threat continues to evolve we prepare for the future and put ourselves in a position to protect those who are most vulnerable.

"We will tackle those involved in crimes including cyber crime, money laundering, gang activity, serious violence and so-called county lines crime."

He added: "In order to do this we need to work more closely with our partners, other agencies, charities and our communities. Collaboration is fundamental to both understanding the threat and to devising strategies and effective tactics to disrupt those involved and provide a multi-faceted, coordinated and effective response.

"I want West Yorkshire to be a hostile environment for those who are involved or assist in serious and organised crime. Closer working arrangements with our partners, engendering shared responsibilities and values help us to make best use of resources, join up ideas and increase tactical capabilities, which will improve what we do, ensure we take positive action and protect those who are the most vulnerable.

"The Programme Precision Strategy is a reflection of our shared vision to make the people of West Yorkshire safer and feel safer in all they do. Those involved in serious and organised crime should know that as a collective we will be relentless in our pursuit to disrupt their criminal activity."

Kersten England, Chair of Programme Precision Executive Steering Group and Chief Executive of Bradford Council, added: "The government’s Serious and Organised Crime Strategy released in November 2018 details the significant impact organised crime has on our communities.

"I know how serious the issues are for some communities, with a small minority of people causing unacceptable difficulties for the vast majority.

"I am determined to ensure that those who seek to intimidate, exploit and corrupt people and conduct their criminal activities within the communities of Bradford and across the wider communities of West Yorkshire will be met by a joint coordinated response."

West Yorkshire Police, all local authorities in the district and the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire are involved.